Industry team celebrates eleventh littoral combat ship’s keel laying
Less than a year after the first sheet of steel was cut for the nation’s eleventh littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Sioux City marked another milestone. On February 19, the industry team led by Lockheed Martin laid the keel in a ceremony at Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wisconsin.
Sioux City’s construction began from a single steel sheet in June 2013. Now, there are 42 of 71 modules under construction, a result of the full-rate LCS production process at Marinette Marine. Currently, five of the Freedom-class warships are under various stages of construction, demonstrating the swift progress of the program.
“We are proud to provide our Sailors with a proven warship that allows them to carry out their missions around the world,” said Dale P. Bennett, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “We are working in partnership with the Navy as they build a fleet able to operate forward, stand ready for any challenges, and serve our essential warfighting requirements.”
Ship sponsor Mrs. Mary Winnefeld authenticated the keel with the traditional signing and welding of her initials. Sioux City will carry Mrs. Winnefeld’s initials throughout the ship’s service to the U.S. Navy.
“I’m both honored and delighted to be back in my home state of Wisconsin as the sponsor of the future USS Sioux City,” said Mrs. Winnefeld. “It’s been a real privilege to meet the great Americans who are building this versatile ship, and I thank them in advance for their quality work.I look forward to meeting her crew soon, being part of her family, and bringing our ship to life when she’s commissioned.”
Sioux City will join the next generation Freedom-class warships in providing the Navy with a flexible, affordable platform to address the changing littoral threats across the globe:
- USS Freedom, the nation’s first LCS, recently completed her maiden deployment to Southeast Asia. Freedom proved the Navy’s concept of operations as she participated in multinational naval exercises, conducted patrols of the South China Sea and responded to disaster relief efforts.
- USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) will be the next LCS to deploy later this year.
- In December 2013, Milwaukee (LCS 5) was formally christened and launched into the Menominee River. Milwaukee will undergo trials before delivery to the Navy.
- Detroit (LCS 7) and Little Rock (LCS 9) are under construction.
- Wichita (LCS 13) began construction in January 2014.
- Billings (LCS 15) will begin construction in 2014
Lay the keel is a shipbuilding term that marks the beginning of the module erection process. Modern warships are now largely built in a series of pre-fabricated, complete hull sections rather than a single keel, so the actual start of the shipbuilding process is now considered to be when the first module for the ship is erected in place and is often marked with a ceremonial event.